New Jersey schools to remain closed for in-person instruction for rest of school year: Gov. Murphy says

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year due to the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.



"This is a difficult decision and I know that many students, parents, and staff would like to be able to return to school," Murphy said in a press release. "However, I have been unwavering on the message that we need to make decisions based on science, not emotion. And while New Jersey is making great strides in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, science tells us that at this point, we can't safely re-open our schools."

Teachers have been required to conduct remote instruction since schools shuttered in mid-March. That will continue.

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New Jersey schools will remain closed for in-person instruction for the rest of the school year.



Private schools with later academic years are closed until at least June 30, Murphy said.

"We want you to be safe, we want you to be healthy," Murphy said, speaking to students during his daily press briefing.

The state will be meeting with parents and other stakeholders to consider summer courses, as well as to discuss the 2020-2021 school year, he added.

"There's a lot to consider about how the school year may differ once our students and faculty return," Murphy said.

In addition, the Department of Education will work with school officials to share ideas on safe and innovative ways to recognize 2020 high school graduates and other end-of-year milestones for students.

New Jersey has some 600 school districts and about 1.4 million students enrolled, according to the state Education Department.

CASES

New Jersey health officials are reporting 45 additional deaths associated with the coronavirus, bringing the state total to 7,910.

The governor reported Monday that the number of cases in New Jersey had topped 128,000.

For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

HOSPITALS TO GET HELP FROM GOVERNMENT

Dozens of hospitals in New Jersey that have been treating coronavirus patients will be getting a large cash infusion from the federal government, which is providing billions of dollars to hospitals hardest hit by the pandemic.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services says 53 of the hardest hit hospitals are in the Garden State and will share a total of $1.7 billion in federal funding. The amount is the second largest given to any state, exceeded only by the amount going to health providers in New York.

The federal department said it is distributing $10 billion to 395 hospitals around the country that provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10 and will distribute an additional $2 billion to these hospitals "based on their Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments."

Murphy said Saturday he was "incredibly satisfied" by the cash infusion, which he said would help the state's health care systems stay on sound financial footing.

"Many of our hospitals have taken quite simply a financial beating over the past two months, in addition to the general beating they've taken as all of their resources have been focused on getting their staffs everything they need to be protected and everything COVID19 patients need to beat this virus," he said.

BEACH REOPENINGS

Murphy did not indicate when he would allow the state's local beaches to reopen, but did say he was encouraged by the behavior of beachgoers at Island Beach State Park over the weekend. Like other state parks that reopened Saturday, Island Beach limited admissions to 50% of the park's capacity.

Murphy said such a limit on the number of vehicles allowed to park in lots near beaches, or a 50% reduction in the amount of daily beach badges normally sold might be one way for local towns to responsibly reopen their beaches this summer.

The governor also reiterated that shore towns cannot legally restrict admission to residents-only, and said legal guidance to shore towns will be forthcoming. At least four Jersey Shore towns have reopened their beaches only to residents.

VETOES

Murphy on Monday also vetoed a handful of bills that would have set aside millions to help with the outbreak in the state. He cited the state's strapped budget.

One measure would have appropriated $20 million as part of a temporary lost wage unemployment program that would have let certain people claim lost wages because of the virus. Another bill called for spending $10 million for sanitation at health care and other facilities. A third bill appropriated $15 million in grants for food banks.

TRANSIT STATION HOURS

New Jersey transit authorities say Newark Penn Station will be closed for several hours overnight for cleaning to protect customers and employees amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting Sunday until further notice, the station will close from 11 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. "to allow for a daily deeper cleaning and disinfection," officials said. Newark Penn Station will reopen daily at 4:30 a.m., officials said.

All trains, buses and light rail service operating between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. will continue to run, but during those times customers will use the Raymond Plaza East entrance to enter and exit the station.

Customers using PATH services overnight will board on Track 1 (also known as Track B), while customers disembarking at the station will use Track 2. Track H will be closed Monday through Friday between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., officials said.

PARKS REOPENING:

Murphy said early reports of behavior at New Jersey's just-reopened parks and golf courses were "so far so good" as far as people adhering to social distancing.

Murphy earlier said state troopers and park police would closely watch parks and golf courses as they reopened during especially fine weather over the weekend. People still must observe social distancing, and masks, though not required, were recommended, he said.

The governor warned that parks would be closed again if "if we hear reports of people not taking either their health or the health ... of other park goers seriously," and such action would be justified if there were spikes in new cases and increases in the spread of the virus.

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